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What is a Felony Firearm Charge?

By Dorothy Bland
Updated May 16, 2024
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A felony firearm charge in the United States is a crime directly related to the possession or transportation of a firearm. Such charges may apply to individuals who are not legally allowed to possess a firearm, such as a felon. Firearm charges might also be filed against individuals who purchase a firearm for a felon or who operate a firearm in a manner not allowed by law. A felony firearm charge can occur at the federal, state or local level.

The Federal Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibited certain groups of individuals from owning firearms. The 1986 Firearm Owners' Protection Act further reinforced and cleared up these laws. Among those blocked from owning weapons and ammunition under the federal law were those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence charges, individuals addicted to controlled substances and those who have been committed to a mental institution.

According to these federal gun laws, individuals convicted of most types of felonies are banned from purchasing, possessing or even residing in a home where a firearm is kept. These laws apply to individuals only under indictment for a crime and not yet convicted as well as the convicted felon who has already completed their sentence. Convicted felons should be aware that the law normally applies to guns as well as ammunition. The law does not usually make any distinction between whether or not the weapon is disassembled, inoperable or locked up. Generally, all guns can be classified as dangerous weapons and could result in a felony firearm charge when possessed by an unauthorized individual.

If a convicted felon commits or attempts to commit a crime while in possession of a firearm, the subsequent offense is also considered a felony offense. For instance, an individual involved in a robbery may find the charges elevated to aggravated felony robbery due to their possession of a gun. Felony firearm related charges may also be bought against a third party for aiding and abetting a felon in their procurement of a weapon. Obtaining a stolen weapon or removing the serial number from the firearm could also result in felony firearm charges.

In addition to federal laws, state and local gun laws may apply. When it comes to the ability to carry a concealed or unconcealed weapon, most states require citizens obtain a license first; those who carry a firearm in public without obtaining this license might face felony charges. Even individuals who lawfully obtain the required license can be charged with a felony firearm charge in certain situations. For example, carrying this weapon into a school zone or a government building is usually against the law. The rules on firing a weapon as a means of self defense also differ by jurisdiction and the individual circumstances.

Gun laws tend to be rigorously enforced at the local, state and national level. In many cases, the local law can differ significantly from federal law, or could be harsher. In most instances, ignorance of the law offers no protection against receiving a felony firearm charge. As these laws may face constant scrutiny and tend to be constantly revamped, speaking to a knowledgeable lawyer is typically recommended for understanding what gun laws apply to a particular case.

MyLawQuestions is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Logicfest — On Feb 10, 2014

Good idea to point out that state firearms laws often come into play in these cases. When state and federal laws come in conflict, which controls and under what conditions? Conflicts of laws analysis can be difficult, but those who know the laws and which ones apply are in a better position to avoid trouble.

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